Saint George was a soldier of the Roman Emperor Diocletian who accepted martyrdom rather than denounce his Christian faith. This carved and painted sculpture was likely to have been pulled or carried outdoors in religious processions commemorating his feast day, now celebrated on April 23. He was frequently depicted astride a horse, holding a shield and an upraised sword, symbols of both protection and sacrifice. During the Middle Ages, Saint George was the subject of widespread devotion, from Russia and Greece in the east to as far west as the British Isles. Perceived as defender of the Crusades and the patron saint of armies, he was invoked by soldiers who prayed to him for courage and for safety in battle.